The spring of 2021 thrust almost every direction of education into a sudden switch from in-person instruction to distance learning. Most people use the term “distance learning” very slightly as what has been deemed crisis learning is not interchangeable with what is considered true distance learning.
A true model of distance learning has an extreme amount of intentional planning, specific execution, and best practices. The spring 2021 model did not have any of these.
In such a model with truly no best practices, every teacher just tried to do the best they could with what they had at their disposal.
What does blended learning mean?
On a primary level, most people understand that blended learning means a mix of instruction both inside the classroom and out. This includes a model that is technology-infused. While schools have had computer labs since the 1990s and have relied on the internet for some time, there has not actually been a blend of instruction that gives students used to control and choice when it comes to their learning.
It sometimes also might seem strange after decades of education to hear the necessity of giving students control and choice in their learning. Moreover, with the Generation Z in the classroom, also known as “YouTube Generation,” it is imperative to be amending our schools with the times that make certain that this youngest next generation of learners is being reached on the level that suits them best.
Moreover, the model of true blended learning gives an element of learning online, not just the completion of assignments. There is actual instruction which takes place at the pace of the individual student. A technology-rich lesson may use the latest technology, but all students are expected to work on the same assignment in the same way. When the lesson is truly blended, they determine how, where and when they dive in.
The key element of the Blended Learning Classroom
One of the key major elements of the blended learning approach is that both the in-class activities and out of the class assignments work together and integrate to move the curriculum further. This goes beyond traditional homework. With the traditional model, homework is assigned to reinforce what is done in the classroom. There has been a lot of research in the past several years that actually question whatever or not this specific model of homework is effective at all.
The key to this is to be certain that there are data points that can be tracked during the out-of-the-classroom assignments. This way, not only can a teacher prepare for in-class activities based on that data, but it is easy for them to track progress and help steer each student in the direction that they needed to be headed perfectly.